Cape Town — The ruling party CNDD-FDD has elevated President Pierre Nkurunziza to the rank of "supreme eternal leader". Top party officials who met on Saturday in Buye, Ngozi province in northern Burundi, said.
Nkurunziza was already the "Chairman of the Council of Wise", so it's still unclear whether the new title confers more powers on him.
His second-in-command, General Evariste Ndayishimiye, said Pierre Nkurunziza is their "elder, father of all" and "no one in the CNDD- FDD can compare himself to his excellence President Nkurunziza".
This immediately sparked a fierce social media debate with mockery from critics, describing the regime as a cult of the personality gathered around "His majesty King Nkurunziza 1st". Social media photos showed him dressed like Emperor Bokassa of Central African Republic.
His supporters, meanwhile, have jumped to his defence, portraying him as a great African leader who is standing up against the West and upholding Burundi's values.
A senior party official has explained that it is not a drift towards the leadership style of Kim II Sung in North Korea, as opponents want to believe. But critics are no buying this...
Translated by Michael Tantoh, allAfrica senior editor, from the original French article.